Cynthia Hyle Bezek and Rebecca Kruyswijk
“When we disciple our children, we’re teaching them what to believe, why to believe, and how to apply that to the way they live,” says Voddie Baucham, Jr. “That’s what we’re instructed to do in Ephesians 6:4, where it says, ‘Do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.’ We don’t want to do that based on the traditions of man. It’s got to come from the Word.”
Both Baucham and his wife, Bridget, are committed home educators. Baucham is also a pastor, a seminary professor, and a conference speaker specializing in cultural apologetics. He is the author of several books, including Family Driven Faith (Crossway, 2007).
Baucham first encountered the Bible when he was a football player in college. “A staff member from Campus Crusade started asking some exploratory questions. He tried his Four Spiritual Laws and realized—with me coming from this background of Buddhism—I didn’t even have enough context for him to use his presentations. So he backed up, and he picked up this Bible, and he said, ‘Okay, Voddie. This is a Bible,’ just like that old Vince Lombardi moment, where his guys need to be brought back to their senses, and he says, ‘This is a football.’ That’s where we started. He came back every day for three weeks until he answered all my questions; then he taught me how to find the answers to those questions. I tell people I was being trained in apologetics before I was converted.”
Two of his football teammates mentored him and bought him his first Bible. “They taught me how to read it and taught me how to study it. They taught me how to share my faith, and they gave me my first preaching opportunity. God used those guys. Sometimes it was formal—sitting down with the Word and answering my questions. Other times it was informal like coming up to me on the field and saying, ‘Hey, Voddie, you probably shouldn’t say that anymore.’”
When asked about his own Bible study habits, Baucham says that moving from studying to teaching is a streamlined process. “In seminary we were told, ‘If all you’re doing is studying the Word for sermons, and you’re not having personal time in the Word, then you’ll dry up.’ I was always convicted by that because I could not read the Scriptures without getting fired up about teaching it. That’s when I learn the most. After a while I just asked myself, ‘Why am I trying to force myself [to separate studying and teaching]? This is how I’m wired. I’m just being who I am.’”
Baucham says he is always thinking about how to teach something when he’s studying the Bible. “When I get in the Word, God is applying things to my life, and then I’m immediately thinking about how I can turn around and use it to be a blessing to other people.”
The Bauchams encourage their children to apply the Bible to every aspect of their lives. “Whatever we’re studying comes back to our stewardship of the gifts, talents, abilities, time and treasure that God has given us.”
“There’s a sense in which we teach the Bible as a course, and I think that’s important to a degree. But what’s more important is that the Bible permeates everything we teach,” says Baucham. “So when we’re studying science [with our children], we go to the Word and talk about how the heavens declare the glory of God. When we’re doing political science, we discuss what the Word says about the role and jurisdiction of the government. When we’re doing history, we ask what the Word says about God’s work in progress. And when Paul preaches at Mars Hill about how God made from one man every nation of men and appointed the boundaries of their habitation, we relate that to the study of geography. Everything has to come back to the Word of God.”
The Bauchams do not limit their Bible reading to biblical books that are accessible or child-friendly. “Second Timothy 3:16 says that ‘All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,’ ” says Baucham. “There will always be parts that are more appealing to us—regardless of our age. What we don’t want to do is take this cut-and-paste approach to the Bible that gives children an unbalanced diet instead of the whole counsel of God.”
He believes parents should “invest in those things that make better readers, better worshipers and better followers of Christ.” The Bauchams make this investment in their own family is by teaching the basic Bible study skills of observation, interpretation and application during family worship.
This begins with opportunities for their children to comment on the material. “We ask, ‘What did you hear? What stuck out to you?’ We just finished reading Job as a family. There’s deep stuff there. [Our son] Elijah observed one day: ‘Job is sad.’ We told him, ‘That’s a great observation.’ And then for the rest of the book, every day, his younger brother would raise his hand. We’d ask, ‘Asher, what’s your observation?’ And he’d say, ‘Job is sad.’ Already he had this idea in his head that after we read, everybody has to make an observation.”
The most essential element in the training of Christian families is also the simplest, Baucham says: family worship. “We just pick a book of the Bible and go chapter by chapter. We read and we find new nuggets every time. Sometimes it takes us 10 or 15 minutes. Sometimes we’re there for an hour and we realize, ‘Hey, we’ve got other stuff to do.’ But it’s just a natural outgrowth of who we are and what we’re committed to as a family.”
He stresses the importance of keeping Bible reading time simple. “If you make this too involved and too complicated, you’re not going to stay with it. You want it to be simple, so that everyone can be engaged in it. We’re not trying to reproduce what happens at church. We just want to worship God as a family.”